by Steffan Browning
New Zealand must urgently follow the Australian Government’s decision to introduce law banning super trawlers operating in their fishery.
The 142m super trawler Abel Tasman, licensed to take 18,000 tonnes of mackerel and bait fish using 600-meter nets, is capable of wiping out entire localised fish populations, which puts fish stock genetic diversity at risk as well as the livelihoods of smaller fishing enterprises. The by-catch would also be significant.
The ship, previously named Margiris, is in Australia as a joint venture between a Dutch fishing company and Seafish Tasmania, which has a significant shareholding by Donna and Peter Simunovich – a theoretically retired, but significant New Zealand fishing family.
It is of concern that their ship, now disturbingly renamed Abel Tasman, may be brought to exploit fisheries in New Zealand waters now that it is being run out of Australian waters.
While New Zealand’s Quota Management system is often touted as the best in the world, it is not robust enough to protect fisheries from the excessive single catches that a monstrosity such as the Abel Tasman is capable of.
Provisions must be enacted in New Zealand to make sure that the Simunovich’s or New Zealand fisheries companies do not bring the Abel Tasman to New Zealand. Super trawlers have no place in any fishery in the world.